by Joe Shea
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, Calif.
March 26, 2003
A PRAYER FOR THE WAR
If I were President of the United States, even though I am a Catholic and would feel compelled to make the Sign of the Cross before I began, I would have started this war with a prayer. I would have said to our Maker, "God, I know that war is an abysmal failure I have come to; I am here in the place where my heart cannot forgive and my mind cannot be at peace; I must make war, however wrong. I am human, God, and full of flaws and errors; forgive me my shortcomings, and do not let them be the cause of hardship and misery for my brave soldiers, who must fight for me in the terrible days ahead. Forgive my my arrogance, for I have not humility, though I would have it; forgive me my pride, for I have not innocence, though I would; forgive me my anger, for I do not have peace within me; forgive me the dark angels of my spirit, Lord of All, for I do not have your angels on my side."
That is the kind of prayer one must now say when a great army has gone forth on a glorious cause and fallen into the wrath of God, who was never asked by anyone to ordain this conflict. God is not partial to wars, as you must suspect, nor to warmakers, nor to war plans. God is with the innocent and the just, with the conscript and not the Regular Army, with the surrenderers and not the victorious. God is with the mute and the dumb of heart, with those deaf to cannons and high oratory; God is with the plain, the ordinary, the true, and He arrays himself in all his might against the liar and the fraud. It often doesn't seem so at first, because all the people He is not with are often seemingly the winners, especially in the nearest term; they are the Saddam Husseins, who though blessed with sons and power, must live in a cave beneath Baghdad and tremble as the bombs destroy his city above; they are the Stalins, whose name was enough to make brave men tremble in the days of Beria and Malenkov, who died when a stroke disabled him at the table of his co-conspirators, and none would help, or call a doctor to help.
"I give to God all cause and glory," I would say, "and to myself I reserve the ills of men. I am weak, not God; I am poor, not God; I am alone, not God. I go to war, not to peace; I shout and stir fear, I tremble as I terrorize; oh, God, woe is me, the least of men. Take me, and my ills, as a thirsty man given hope may take salt if God says it is water; give my hope of peace a place in all my thoughts, o Lord, and give my failings to the mockery of my enemies; but do not give me death, o God who gives life, and give it not to those who conspire with me, nor to the soldiers whose battles are my work; fear me not, o Lord, and let none fear me, for I am naught but a leaf trembling in the fire, yours to burn."
Then I would go bathe myself, and sit by a river, and watch the stream a while, looking for currents and ripples and obstructions as the inexorable force of it flows to the sea.